Car Scam Allegations
46-year-old Robert McElreath is a wanted man in Asheville. He's accused of bilking victims out of more than 2.2 million dollars. Victims say he had a smooth sales pitch and convinced them he would deliver their dream vintage car - a 1978 Trans Am made famous by Burt Reynolds in the Movie 'Smokie and the Bandit.' McElreath used Ebay to allegedly post bogus pictures of Trans Ams he had restored to mint condition. Investigators say it was never the case.
North Carolina's Attorney General General Roy Cooper has been granted a temporary restraining order to stop McElreath from doing business in North Carolina. But the problem is finding him. There are 26 warrants out for his arrest in Buncombe county for obtaining property by false pretenses.
"I saved up for this car for three years. I went into debt," said Scott Smith who came to News 13 back in February to say McElreath had conned him.
A judge has granted a temporary restraining order to stop Mcelreath from taking any more victim's money. Carol Thompson's husband died three days after he thought he was getting his car.
"He died a very happy man. He was ecstatic," said told News 13 by phone from Georgia. "He got the paperwork the night he died that it was paid in full and he'd be getting the car in ten to twelve months."
But she said, it was all a lie.
"It was his dream car," said Thompson. She never saw the car and never got her husband's $13,000 back.
On a Trans Am 'Bandit' lovers Facebook page, victims have exchanged stories. George Payne of Jacksonville, Florida said he contacted Buncombe County Sheriff's detectives a year and a half ago. He lost $15,000 with McElreath. He feels detectives should have shut down McElreath years ago.
"I'm a little angry and disgusted it's taken this long," said Payne. "It should have been shut down six months ago and would have saved 20 or 30 victims a lot of money."
Some people News 13 have spoken to believe McElreath is still in Asheville in hiding from police. Gerald Jones is a neighbor. He believes he's seen McElreath in the last thirty days.
"The police have been out here several times looking for him," said Jones who lives in a trailer park in Fairview.
"He's been here several times but most of the time it's just the lady here. I see him go into the house with her.
While we were speaking with Jones, a black expedition we were told McElreath drives pulled up with the woman, Gerald Jones said McElreath has been living with in the trailer. We tried speaking with her but she had no comment and went inside the house.
By Kimberly King
Follow Kimberly on Twitter @KimKingReports